Members of Onion Lake Cree Nation wore red as they walked through the community in remembrance of family members and friends who lost their lives or are still missing.
Rosanne Laliberte says she’s worked in education for 28 years and walks to remember Tyrell Shane Lee Littlewolfe, who was found dead near St. Walburg.
“He passed away about a month ago and was one of my former students. We want answers. I have another student that I taught years ago who’s missing now. We hope to find him and bring him home as well. Onion Lake is my home, this is my place and these are my people, and we need to bring awareness to our own people.”
She says the awareness is needed to help inform and protect the younger generations from tragedies that happen within the community.
“Losing 10 to 12 people a year to something tragic it makes you wonder what it would be like in the next 10 years if a lot of our younger people are gone due to uncertain circumstances.”
Hubert Pahtayken, a band councillor, says the walks organized across the country help raise awareness of the issue and gives a voice to those who are not forgotten.
“Some questions are still not answered as to what happened to our loved ones. In our community here, the drugs and alcohol have been plaguing our nation and this walk is a reminder for the nation and the neighbouring communities that our loved ones are not forgotten. Also, the issues that are plaguing us, we are taking the heap of that and dealing with them.”
Chief Henry Lewis says he was impressed by the number of people who came to support the walk and wants to see more government action and support on the subject.
“We as leadership stand behind the women and the struggles they have to get their voices heard. I think it’s high-time the government started listening.”
“One of their mandates was to deal with this ongoing issue and yet I don’t think we’ve seen any progress. Talking about women and girls going missing, what about men? We have two youth still missing and we believe it’s due to the issue of drugs and gangs.”
Pahtayken echoed Lewis’ remarks and says they have the tools and knowledge in place to help, but need more funding to make an impact on a issue that spans many generations.